Sunday, November 23, 2014

Titus 3: Regenerated for Renewal



Titus 3:1-8 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works.

Here Paul describes two processes in a Christian faith journey: regeneration (spiritual birth) and renewal (spiritual transformation), both of which a result of the same Spirit of grace working on and in the believer. Paul refers to regeneration as being "justified by his grace (so that) we might become heirs" (v.7). But he does not end there: he went on to speak about renewal, basically the application of grace in our lives. So, though we are saved "not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy" (v.5), nevertheless, Paul insists justification is the means but sanctification is the end: "those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works" (v.8).

Grace is a two-phased process: we are first regenerated by the Holy Spirit. This process is initiated at conversion when were were justified by grace. This is not based on our own righteousness but on God's mercy. This leads on to the next phase when we are being renewed by the Holy Spirit. This process is an on-going application of God's grace in our lives, resulting in personal transformation. The goal of this second phase is to produce good works.

So Paul calls on Titus to "remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people" (v.1-2). We have been regenerated by the Spirit of grace in order to be renewed by the same Spirit of grace, for it is through the Spirit that we received and experience grace in real and tangible ways.

Father, thank You that You have regenerated us by grace through Your Spirit in order that we might be renewed by the same Spirit. We surrender our lives to You that Your grace might be made visible in our lives. Amen.

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